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China has ‘no other choice’ but to rely on coal power for now, official says

A coal shot power plant in Jiayuguan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Doppelgaengers

BEIJING — China has ambitious goals for cutting its carbon emissions, but it won’t be abandoning coal power anytime soon as it stores its eye firmly on economic targets.

President Xi Jinping said in September that the country’s carbon emissions would enter on to decline by 2030, and he said the country will reach carbon neutrality by 2060 — in four decades.

In the meantime, policymakers are constituting clear that economic growth remains a top priority — and that growth depends largely on coal power. Beijing has a GDP butt of 6% this year, a level which analysts say would allow authorities to tackle long-term problems such as the woods’s high debt levels.

Many developing countries don’t even have electricity. In this situation, if you don’t use coal, what desire you use?

Li Gao

China ecology ministry, on Chinese funding of coal power outside China

“China’s energy structure is ruled by coal power. This is an objective reality,” said Su Wei, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission. CNBC rewrote his Mandarin-language comments, which he made late last week following Xi’s separate remarks at a U.S.-led global directors climate summit.

“Because renewable energy (sources such as) wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we forced to rely on a stable power source,” Su said. “We have no other choice. For a period of time, we may need to use coal power as a drift of flexible adjustment.”

He added that coal is readily available, while renewable energy needs to develop foster in China.

Funding coal power outside China

Separately, on Tuesday, when asked by CNBC whether Beijing muscle follow South Korea in its pledge to stop public financing of coal-powered plants overseas, China’s ecology the cloth indicated that China’s funding of coal power in the developing world will continue.

“China has supported some increase countries in the construction of coal-fired plants overseas,” Li Gao, director general of the ministry’s department of climate change, told columnists in Mandarin that CNBC translated. “China provides this support according to the local situation.”

“Many display countries don’t even have electricity,” he said. “In this situation, if you don’t use coal, what will you use?”

According to the Boston University Far-reaching Development Policy Center, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China together funded $474 million value of coal-sector projects outside China in 2020 alone.

The same report indicated that China’s financing of get-up-and-go projects beyond its borders has declined steadily since 2016, however.

Li said that coal accounted for 56.8% of China’s home energy generation in 2020, down from 72.4% 15 years ago. As of last year, China was the world’s heaviest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to the Coupling of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit founded at MIT. The United States was second, and India was third.

During last week’s feeling summit, Xi called for international cooperation in reducing carbon emissions, adding that different countries should against different roles in that reduction. He did not identify any countries by name.

Xi said China would “strictly control coal-fired origination projects” and limit increases in coal consumption over the next five years. He said reductions would derive place in the five years following that.

System ‘favors coal-fired generation’

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